We often think about sustainability and eco-friendly buying in terms of the fabric in our garments, but that’s just one part of the fashion industry chain to consider. We explore five ways that fashion fans can expand their impact and make a difference in accessible and meaningful ways.
Eco Production refers to the environmentally friendly supply chain from manufacturing to logistics, based on science-backed learnings to improve the sustainability of products brought to market. Products are also made in locations and/or with processes that are associated with a lower environmental impact than other alternatives.
Labelling is likely to include ‘Eco Friendly’ or ‘Eco Production’. Big brands are increasingly getting on board – some notable players are Levi’s, Running Bare, Nobody Denim, Minima Esenciales and RM Williams.
Animal-Friendly products are made with animal welfare in mind or and/or using non-animal alternatives or methods.
Small footprint materials such as recycled nylon, milkweed-pod fibres, polyurethane (PU), mushrooms, and fruit even! Brands such as Express, Gap Inc, Nasty Gal, Top Shop, Bebe and Zara are some of the brands touting ‘vegan leather’ or ‘vegan clothing’.
Materials used in the production of the fashion items are made with lower environmental impact than the usual alternatives.
Materials include similar to ‘Vegan Clothing’ but with those with chemicals and plastics excluded. The environment is a concern here but also the health of those wearing the fashion.
Patagonia is one of the original brands who went to market with sustainable materials. Look out for newcomers who are using recycled ocean waste like Effekt Footwear and Sea Threads.
Impact on people is another environmental concern being increasingly valuedin the fashion industry. Fair Production defines products made in locations holding an accreditation associated with decent working conditions for employees – conditions such as fair wages, salaries, employee age limits and safe working locations.
Patagonia is well known for its ethics and for being one of the first out of the blocks to consider fair trade practices. Others include Pact, Kotn, Sezane, Quince, Outland Denim, Etiko, Kowtow to name a few.
A circular economy is about sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling – and changing up the model in which resources are mined for new products that eventually become waste. Some fashion manufacturers are aiming for their products to be created by recycled materials and then returned for re-use or repair once the consumer has finished with them.
The op shop is one of the oldest forms of circular economics and even the rental fashion services for big occasion clothing. We’re now seeing more member-based clothing hire services like Style Theory, GlamCorner, Designerex or The Volt. Some operate via smartphone apps and others allow you to go in store and try before you rent.
The real gold here is supporting brands that tick all five boxes!